The Classification of Alcoholics PMC

This group has comparatively low rates of co-occurring mental health conditions and moderate rates of other substance abuse disorders and family members with alcoholism. Many have been diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder and other mental illnesses, including major depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, social phobias and panic disorder. The majority smoke, and many use other drugs, including marijuana, cocaine and opioids. The functional alcoholic subtype accounts for about 19% of alcoholics and includes individuals in their early ‘40s. They start drinking around 18 years old but develop alcohol dependence later in life around the age of 37.

five types of alcoholics

Two of the most effective addiction treatments are outlined in the following subheadings. Although strong links have been drawn between alcoholic parents and children growing up to be alcoholics (3), there are many other reasons why someone may turn to alcoholism. When in the cycle of addiction, an individual’s career/school life, finances, and relationships, can all be affected, often worsening as the individual is left untreated. It is interesting to note that the subtypes summarized in table 2 have been identified through armchair intuition as well as by comparative research and empirical clustering techniques. To the extent that different methods have identified subtypes with similar features, this provides strong evidence for the cumulative wisdom of the past as well as the progress made in recent years. Habitual inebriety begins as a “voluntary indulgence” that eventually crosses the line between the physiological and the pathological, resulting in a deterioration of physical and mental abilities.

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It is marked by an inability to control or stop drinking despite the negative consequences it may have on one’s physical health, mental well-being, and personal relationships. The subtypes include Young Adult, Young Antisocial, Functional, Intermediate Familial, and Chronic Severe, reflecting a range of ages, behaviors, and family histories of alcoholism. Functional Alcoholics are individuals who maintain their professional and personal responsibilities while secretly battling alcohol addiction. Unlike the typical portrayal of alcoholics, they keep up appearances, managing to perform well in their jobs and maintain social relationships, which often masks the severity of their condition. Addressing the unique challenges faced by Young Adult Alcoholics requires a nuanced understanding of their social environment and the pressures they face. Interventions that promote social support for sobriety, alongside educational programs that highlight the risks of heavy drinking, are critical in steering young adults towards healthier choices and recovery pathways.

  • They tend to be middle-aged, and about half have a family history of alcoholism in multiple generations.
  • Family members and friends can recognize the type of alcoholic by observing their loved one’s behaviors and their impact on relationships.
  • Identifying the Young Antisocial Subtype is crucial for tailoring effective interventions and treatment approaches for individuals struggling with alcoholism.
  • These individuals may appear to have their lives together on the surface, but they struggle with alcoholism behind closed doors.

This genetic predisposition increases their vulnerability to alcohol-related problems. One of the defining characteristics of the functional subtype is the ability to maintain their external responsibilities despite their alcohol use. They may be high-functioning individuals who excel in their professional lives, maintain relationships, and fulfill their daily obligations. They often exhibit a level of control over their drinking, appearing to be functional members of society.

Young Adult Subtype:

A history of alcoholism in first-degree relatives also has been used frequently as a typological criterion in the post-Jellinek period. This group has a higher education level than most but not as high as the functional subtype. More members of this group have full-time jobs than any other, but their income level tends to be lower than the functional subtype. While this group is not especially likely to seek treatment, those that do tend to attend self-help groups, specialty treatment programs, detoxification programs, and private health care providers. Close to 80 percent of chronic severe alcoholics have a genetic and familial link to alcoholism, meaning that a close family member also suffered, or suffers, from alcoholism.

While it is very unlikely that a member of this group will seek out treatment, they are most likely to seek out a 12-Step program if they do. There are, however, 5 identified subtypes of alcoholics as identified by the National Institute Of Health (NIH). They have the highest divorce rate — 25.1 percent — of all the alcoholic types. Only 9 percent have gone to college, and only 43 percent are employed full time. They drink more heavily than any other type of alcoholic, consuming alcohol 248 days of the year on average and drinking five or more drinks 69 percent of the time. More than a quarter have sought help for their drinking at some point through self-help groups, treatment programs, alcohol detox programs and health care providers.

Examples of Typologies Developed in the Post-Jellinek Era

The young adult subtype also often abuses other substances besides alcohol and rarely seeks treatment. The largest percentage of alcoholics fall into this group, as NIAAA publishes that 31.5 percent of all alcoholics in the United States fit this subtype. This group is typically in their late teens or early 20s, and either just of legal drinking age or slightly younger.

  • This group also suffers from high rates of cigarette, Marijuana, and Cocaine addiction.
  • The body has become accustomed to alcohol, so smaller sips do not have the same power.
  • We’re here 24/7 to help guide you or your loved on through rehab and recovery.
  • Alcohol is often implicated in exacerbating aggression, and the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) publishes that 40 percent of all violent crimes cite alcohol as a contributing factor.
  • Identifying different types of alcoholics is crucial for tailoring effective treatment approaches and interventions.
  • The best way to find a successful treatment program is to understand alcohol issues in-depth.

These individuals are also more at risk of major depression and bipolar disorder, adding to the time spent in rehabilitation and treating these co-occurring mental health issues. M. Jellinek created the first scientific typology which referred to alcoholism as a disease, but, these have since evolved. Of all subtypes, five types of alcoholics the functional subtype is the least likely to have legal problems; they are the least likely to report problems due to their drinking. They have the highest education levels and incomes of all types of alcoholics. These are people that may seem to have their lives together; they may be the ones that others look up to.


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